Ground Search & Rescue (GSAR)
Each group is responsible for a certain region of the province; they assess the kind of terrain they need to respond to, and the weather and mountain conditions they need to operate in.
Over time, groups develop a needs assessment based on the kinds of searches or rescues they are asked to perform, and they use this information to decide what kind of training, equipment and rescue capabilities they need to develop. As technology and subject profiles change, the various groups reassess their needs regularly.
Dividing the province into regions allows each group to tailor its response capability to the needs of the communities they serve, and lets local knowledge and experience guide how the groups respond to tasks.
SAR Operations Policy
All SAR teams in BC operate under the policies, procedures and guidelines set out by Emergency Management BC. These include safety plans, standards for training and rescue equipment, and rules under which a SAR group may be activated, and “stood down.”
The following agencies can request a SAR group to respond:
BC Ambulance Service
BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) is often the first call for an injured person. If that person is a significant distance from a road, BCAS frequently calls for GSAR to assistance to access, stabilize package and transport the subject, all skills that GSAR groups train for. Search and Rescue has a very close relationship with BCAS and many paramedics are GSAR volunteers in their spare time.
BC Coroners Service
The tragic result of some GSAR tasks is the death of a subject. Any death in BC falls under the jurisdiction of the BC Coroner’s Service (BCCS). However, because of weather, terrain or remote locations, BCCS will regularly ask GSAR for assistance to transport the deceased.
Canadian Armed Forces & Coast Guard
The military can ask GSAR to assist in its duties to search for and access downed aircraft or watercraft in distress in inland waters.
There are seven national parks in British Columbia which take up a huge area of land. While Parks Canada maintains a group of professional and extremely well-trained rescue personnel in these parks, they can request additional GSAR resources when needed. A reciprocal agreement is in place where Parks Canada can assist outside of their parks in certain circumstances.
Fire/rescue services are responsible for all rescue within municipal boundaries and are the first responders to many medical rescues. Fire departments regularly work closely with GSAR to maintain interoperability for when specialised rescue techniques are required or when a rescue requires additional resources.